The cops in Need For Speed Heat might be bad guys, in that they… erm, keep trying to stop you from destroying property and endangering lives, but that doesn’t stop them from being damn relentless. Drive a little too fast past just one squad car and before long you’re liable to have half the Palm City P.D. on your tail. Fortunately, we're here to show you how you can escape the cops, and how to get in-game rewards in the process.
What Makes the Cops Chase You?
Well, pretty much anything you’d assume would upset them: speeding, crashing, driving off-road, hitting other cars or people’s property while they’re close enough to see it happen. While in cutscenes the law act like a well-funded mafia with half the scruples, you do generally have to give them a reason to chase you when it comes to the gameplay. They also don’t like the unsanctioned nighttime races, and will chase anybody involved if they happen to see them, though the race will continue regardless.
What Rewards Are There for Being Chased by the Cops?
Potentially a lot, though it’ll require some work and quick-thinking on the player’s behalf. While there’s no benefit to being pursued by the cops during the day, at night an exciting high-speed pursuit can contribute hugely to your street cred.
Any reputation earned during the course of the night is multiplied by the maximum amount of cop attention you earned across the night. So if, say, you earned 5000 reputation points in a race, then got chased by cops cars all the way home with a Heat Ranking of 4, you’d walk away with an impressive 20,000 points in your pocket, turning a good reward into a phenomenal one.
However, all this assumes you actually managed to escape them. If your car is destroyed, pinned in by cops or just deactivated with a remote kill switch, you’ll be arrested, lose the multiplier, and a big chunk of money into the bargain as you’re fined for your crimes. If you want to keep your cred high, you’ll have to escape the cops and make it home safely.
How to Escape the Cops
The quickest answer is simply not to give them a reason (cops are marked as red arrows on your minimap, meaning you have the knowledge needed to give them a wide berth) but sometimes that isn’t viable, or you just want to try going for that precious score multiplier.
When you do start being hunted by cops, a small flashing red circle will appear on your mini-map, centred on your vehicle. If you want to escape, you’ll have to get far enough away that none of the red arrows are within that circle for about twenty seconds or so. Do that, and they’ll lose track of you, marked by a blue “Escaped” icon at the bottom of the screen, though they’ll remain extra-alert for a while (indicated by red vision cones on the map). Finally some intercepted dialogue tells you they’ve calmed down and gone back to normal, at least until the next time you annoy them.
Upgrades To Help You Escape
As you progress through the game and build your reputation, you’ll unlock numerous pieces of equipment and upgrades for your car in Lucas’ garage that’ll give you the edge next time you encounter the fuzz.
- Engine enhancements. An obvious one, but most modifications to your engine will boost your speed and acceleration, or you could just replace the whole thing. Palm City’s cop cars are no slouches, true, but at the end of the day you need to put distance between you and them, and a fast car is an obvious solution to that.
- Radar disruptor. The first model of this little computer is available at Reputation Level 8 for your passive auxiliary slot, a device that decreases the amount of time necessary to stay out of the cops range before they lose track of you. With a more effective upgrade available at Level 31, it’s a valuable piece of tech if you’re sick of being hounded by the law.
- Damage reduction. Another passive auxiliary upgrade, this one unlocks at level 15 and is arguably better than the radar disruptor for having value outside of police chases. However, if you’re a careful driver and find you’re usually arrested for other reasons than crashing, this won’t do much to change that.
- Kill Switch Jammer. This one is a triggered device available for the active auxiliary slot, a gizmo that’ll make your car temporarily immune to being shut down by Kill Switch attacks. Like the Radar Disruptor it has very little function outside of police chases, but may yet make the difference when it comes to that next cop chase.
- Nitrous enhancements. The ability to accelerate quickly is near-vital when it comes to escaping the law, as crashes are common and the police will immediately try to box you in and prevent your escape. Rocketing away in an instant can save you from this fate, and it looks damn cool to boot.
Tactics to Escape the Cops
Once you’re fleeing a crime scene in a haze of flashing lights, all the gadgets in the world won’t save you if you don’t know how to drive properly. And while there’s no guaranteed method, there are certain tricks and tips we can advice that should help you make it away safely.
- Keep watching your minimap. Aside from it being the way you know how far to keep the cops at bay, the Palm City P.D. will begin to call for reinforcements if a chase is going on for too long. Any nearby cars will divert towards you, and you’ll have to choose whether to change course and avoid them, or to meet them head on. After all, that’s how you earn a bigger multiplier.
- Don’t bother trying to wreck their cars if you’re not prepared for it. Smashing a cop car is a perfectly valid tactic (if a bit cruel), but if you want to do that you’ll need a car that’s a lot more durable than the one you’re bashing into. If you left the garage in a sleek-looking Ferrari, bouncing against the police is more likely to hurt your vehicle than theirs. Sure, pushing them away can be helpful in the right circumstances, but if you’re not driving a monster truck, don’t act like it.
- Off-ramps are your friends. Any sudden turn that the cops can’t immediately anticipate or copy can turn a bad situation into a miraculous escape. Wait until the last second, then do a sharp turn, gunning the nitrous for that extra boost of speed. If you’re lucky, they won’t have slowed in time and will shoot straight past it, forcing them to double back.
- Pay them to leave you alone. No, really. After a certain point early in the campaign you’ll unlock the ability to bribe police chasing you, done simply by pressing L1 when the prompt arises at the bottom of the screen. However, it has two flaws - firstly that it’s not cheap at $10,000, and secondly that it won’t work if you’ve annoyed them too much and their numbers are too high.
What to Do After You’ve Escaped the Cops
After you’ve left the cops behind, you can either keep driving, or go back to a garage or safehouse to essentially bank the reputation points you’ve earned (assuming it’s night). At that point, nobody can take them from you, and you’ll earn a permanent boost in reputation.
Now that you've learned how to leave the law behind, why not check out our guide on car repair, just to ensure that they can't run you off the road? Or why not take a look at our explanation of Need for Speed Heat's day/night cycle here? Or you could always just take a look at our guide on the game's many collectibles, so you're never out of things to do!